Game: Roterra 4 – Magical Revolution
Genre: Casual, Puzzle, Indie
System: Steam (Windows) (Also on macOS, Linux, and iOS)
Developer | Publisher: DiG-iT! Games
Controller Support: Full
Price: UK £8.50 | US $9.99 | EU € 9,75
Release Date: March 30th, 2023
Review code used, with many thanks to DiG-iT! Games.
Roterra 4 – Magical Revolution is the fourth instalment of DiG-iT! Games’ Roterra series. Like its predecessors, you must guide your nameless character through a series of mazes and reach the exit. The game’s setting is very fantasy-esque and even features a fully 3-D rendered intro sequence showcasing the playable characters. Without any dialogue, I couldn’t quite grasp the characters’ goals. I didn’t play any of the previous games either, so I’m not sure if the game continues where the previous one left off. Fortunately, the real star is the puzzle experience; everything else is gravy with a couple of minor lumps!
Terra-forging a Path
After the short introduction, the game wastes no time putting you in its first labyrinth and teaching you the basics. The core theme of the game is pathfinding, but you’ll quickly find out how broken the path is in the level’s initial state. It is up to you, the player from up above, to correct the path and guide your character through the maze while avoiding occasional hazards. You primarily do this by rotating and/or spinning marked sections of the path. Once you have made some connections, you can instruct your character to move until the need calls for intervening with the ground again.
A Winning, Spinning Formula
“Fixing a Maze” sounds rather basic, especially when you notice how every level is cut into 3-D cubes, but the game throws a few curveballs to make the experience quite enjoyable. First, you cannot manipulate the cube your character is standing on. Second, you cannot rotate or spin certain cubes on the map. Finally, many levels have switches and other interactive elements that can change the level surprisingly to help make each level feel fresh.
Seeing the screenshots of the broken maze is one thing because you can sort of make the necessary corrections in your mind, but playing the game is another story! I did find myself scratching my head in a few areas simply because my character was in the way. Expect each level to involve multiple instances of level changing with frequent character movement with a bit of backtracking. I spent 3 hours going through the first 12 levels, and none of them ever felt so straightforward, especially when you consider all the other unique elements the later levels throw in.
DiG-IT! Games have done a terrific job of creating living and breathing levels. Flora and fauna are nicely animated as you explore and trigger switches. You cannot move the camera during regular gameplay, but the chosen angles strike a nice balance showing off the lush environments without hampering your vision on the paths you need to fix. Because of its 3-D approach, the cubes also have depth by presenting extra challenges when you need to take your character to other areas.
I also appreciate the tiny little details the developers added. It doesn’t look obvious from afar, but if you look closely, some of the tiles have square markers on each corner, while others have triangular markers. These indicators tell you which tiles you can rotate or spin. The appearance of these indicators can vary depending on the biome, so they don’t look out of place at all. Nice touch!
A Few Rough Edges
I do have a couple of issues with the game that I feel the developers could easily fix through a patch. At the time of writing, I could not find any video options in the game. That shouldn’t be an issue for folks with a modern laptop, but some owners of older Pentium and Celeron laptops might experience frame rate issues. With other casual games I play, I can easily fix this by lowering the screen resolution, which this game unfortunately lacks. You can workaround this issue by changing the resolution at the Windows level.
I would also like to see a windowed mode so I can play the game while doing other things. While you can press Alt+Enter to switch the game to windowed mode, you cannot resize it.
Also missing is the ability to customize the controls. It looks like the game was ported from mobile, as you must click the tile to have your character go there if the path allows. Holding the left mouse button on an unoccupied tile spins it while drag-clicking the mouse rotates it. I’ve gotten used to the controls after a few levels, but the mouse actions do feel a little tiring after a while. Playing on a gamepad feels a little easier, but you must still control the cursor with the analogue stick. I would prefer controlling the character using actual directional buttons. On the upside, the game fully supports touch controls if your Windows device supports it.
All About the Exit
As impressed as I am with the level of design, visuals, and some surprises, I wish you could do more at each level. The levels do have a good deal of puzzle-solving, but the only goal of each level is to go to the exit. With some levels spanning multiple sections and layers, there could have been extra room for side quests or secret collectables to add a bit of replayability. Recording how long it took to finish a level with a matching rating would have been a nice extra, too or perhaps some levels with time limits to add some tense moments.
Conclusion – Solid Groundwork with Good Potential
Quirks aside, the beautiful levels and fair challenges kept me hooked. Fans of the previous titles should feel right at home because why fix what isn’t broken? I would love to see a sequel that expands on this concept because Roterra 4 – Magical Revolution, on its own, has all the basic ingredients in place. Add the sweet sprinkles, and I could see this becoming a full-on puzzle adventure rather than a simple casual pick-me-up.
Final Verdict: I Like it